Here are just a few of the bills that could destroy – or at the very least badly hurt – the very industry that is the glue that keeps our state together:
- SB 459 – Hydraulic Fracturing Permits & Reporting, sponsored by Senators Antoinette Sedillo Lopez and Shendo and Caballero and Allison. This bill would stop fracking in our state for four years. Fracking is a safe method of extracting more oil and gas than can be accomplished otherwise. Fracking has occurred in New Mexico for decades without harm to water tables or people. But if you stop fracking in New Mexico, you stop new oil and gas production. Period.
Ah, but supporters say the bill is only for four years and the oil and gas will still be there. Yes, the assets would still be there, but you can rest assured the companies that extract them won’t be looking for new opportunities here. These companies are not going to sit around for four years and see if New Mexico can figure out how to properly manage itself.
- SB 186 – Oil Conservation Division Powers and Duties, sponsored by Senator Martinez and Rep McQueen. If we’re not being tough enough on the industry by increasing royalties and stopping fracking, let’s make sure we come at them in a different way. SB 186 changes the language to say that if a company makes an environmental mistake, they should be punished severely. It removes the language of the violation needing to be committed by a person ‘knowingly and willfully,’ making it ‘a person who violates any provision of the Oil and Gas Act…’ That is a huge and significant change, especially in dealing with a responsible industry that cares very much about their employees, the environment and their production. But, like any industry, mistakes can occur. What’s critical is the difference between a mistake and willful act. In addition, SB 186 increases the maximum allowed fine for a violation from $1,000/day to $15,000/day.
- To make sure the ‘leave it in the ground’ agenda is well-rounded, we don’t want to leave mining out of the bad policy mix. HB 255 – Mining Permit Corporate Guarantees and HB 220 – Determination of Discharge Effect on Water sponsored by Rep McQueen goes a long way in assuring there won’t be new mines producing high paying jobs and revenue for our state. New Mexico has abundant natural resources but hasn’t opened a new mine since 2009. With these kinds of policies, our state will not be considered ‘welcoming,’ and will reduce the possibility of seeing new mining operations.
- HB 206 –Environmental Review Act sponsored by Rep Chasey and Senator Stewart. This unnecessary and redundant bill is exactly what our state does not need. Sandoval County Commissioner Jay Block said this about the bill, “If you think things are bad now, it will be much worse with more government duplication, lack of guidance and lines of authority that will confuse businesses and governments at different levels.
The list of attacks on our extractive industries goes on and on and there are more onerous and overreaching measures expected before the end of introductions on Thursday, 2/14/19. Of course, we’ll have the mystery ‘dummy bills’ to contend with after that. (Dummy bills are placeholders with no content allowing for ‘who knows what’ to be added later.)
Is this a good way to do business? Not from our view. In fact, Texas may be looking a little more appealing to the industry that props up our state. And what are legislators doing about this? Right now, the House is passing these bad bills out of committee usually on a straight party line vote of Democrats in support and Republicans against.
We started this post by pointing out that much of the bad legislation is being introduced by the progressive wing of the majority party. So far, even those who claim not to be a part of that group are primarily supporting those bills. There have been a few from the majority party who have stepped away from the party on issues such as guns and abortion, following their moral compass. We applaud their leadership and hope to see more legislators focusing on what is best for their constituents and the state as a whole – not what is easy or mandated by party bosses.
Is there hope? Absolutely – hope springs eternally! But let’s talk honestly about what it’s going to take to move New Mexico away from a dangerous progressive agenda to one of common sense:
1) Sound financial leadership: There are some dedicated people on House Appropriations led by Rep Lundstrom and Senate Finance led by Senators John Arthur Smith and Carlos Cisneros. There are other leaders throughout both chambers and in both parties, who are focused on doing what is best for our state. Our job is to support them however we can.
2) Sound state management: We are looking for leaders to step up and put party platforms and party boss demands aside, if they do not align with what is best for our state. Will that happen? So far we’ve seen the minority party standing firm against government attacks of multiple industries and personal rights. We’ve seen hopeful signs in the majority party with breaks from some who know the value of their vote. Our prayer
3) A better view from the top: We understand campaigning, but it’s time to move away from that and get down to the reality of the needs within our state. That means finding ways to assist business in their operations, not making it harder for them to operate in New Mexico. It also means not squeezing every dime you can out of businesses and individuals through higher taxes and regulation. We appreciate the enthusiasm and fresh energy; we just don’t want to see people hurt in the process.
NMBC doesn’t care what party you’re with; we care about the decisions you make. We will help and support any person at any level of government who is leading by example with good business sense or who have the common sense to look for answers when they don’t have them.
New Mexico, we CAN do better! We do not have to acquiesce to a progressive agenda that will shut down entire industries, over-regulate our businesses, and tax all of us into poverty – or into other states. It’s time for ALL OF US to come together and have constructive conversations about moving this state forward.
Are you in? If you’re not a member of NMBC, there is no better time to join! Unity in bold actions is the key to our successful future.